Project Canterbury

The Priests’ Convention

Philadelphia, April 29-30, 1924

From The American Church Monthly, June, 1924, Vol. XV, No. 4.

Edited by Selden Peabody Delany, D.D.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012


THE most pressing question with which Christendom is today confronted is the question of reunion. Unless Christendom can be reunited the Christian Religion must lose social force and the Church count less and less in the life of the community. To teach a supernatural and revealed religion means to teach with authority, and our present divided Christendom day by day loses in authority over the minds of men. It is, of course, easy to say that Christianity has never been a united force, that there has been no period in its history when there have not been divisions; and that especially since the division between East and West Christendom has been split into antagonistic parties. That is true; and because it is true what should have been the normal action of the Christian Church in guiding human life has been impossible. A divided Church is a confession of failure, it is an admission of incompetence to manage the affairs of its own household.

The causes of disunion are commonly understood to be disagreements upon the questions of dogma and discipline which of necessity arise in the course of the development of the Church's life. Divisions upon such matters, especially on matters of belief, are viewed by the outside world with contempt. Such an account of the causes of division seems to me to be entirely superficial—to confound the occasion with the cause. Ultimately, I do not believe that the grounds of division are theological. Rather, theological grounds of difference have been seized upon and erected into symbols of party; but the parties were already in existence and seeking modes for the expression of their antagonism. The ultimate enemy of a realized Catholicism is Nationalism. In reality the dogmatic differences between East and West are slight and of relatively easy adjustment; it was the difference between the Greek and Latin that made the breach—and continues it. When at the close of the Middle Ages the need of reform became evident and the cry for it insistent it was Nationalism that brought about the failure of the reforming councils. It was Nationalism which was the [398/399] deciding factor in the Protestant Reform and determined its extent and direction, and which produced its endless divisions. Cujus regio, ejus religio, was the ideal expression of the temper; and the theory of national Churches seeks to put it on a secure basis of theory, and erect it into a dogma. Unless in our theory and practice Catholicism can replace localism there is no hope for the reunion of Christendom. And it must be a true Catholicism. After all, it is no more provincial to shout, "I am an Anglican," as though there were some peculiar and superior religion of that name, than it is to cry, "I am a Western." A reunited Christendom can know neither East nor West, Anglican nor Roman. If we cannot be "one in Christ Jesus" we must confess our failure.

The failure of Catholicism, then, has been a failure to triumph over Nationalism. The primitive proclamation of Internationalism—"For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink of one Spirit," with the result that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus"—this primitive proclamation of Internationalism, I say, found itself thwarted almost from the first. The East acquiesced in Nationalism without much struggle. The West, under the lead of Rome, fought valiantly for a Catholic ideal, but in the end and in practice (as distinguished from theory) largely succumbed. The national lines hardened, and an egotistic temper, commonly mistaken for patriotism, triumphed. To-day we live in a world that declines to learn the lessons of experience and is accenting Nationalism to its own destruction. Politically and religiously the world cries out for Internationalism—and so far cries in vain. Can the Church show the way out by rising above Nationalism and recovering the Catholic Ideal?

If it continues to cry in vain it will no doubt perish everlastingly: and what is of present concern to us, unless we can rise above the limitations of Nationalism, we can have no hope of Church unity. We move restlessly under the obvious incompetence of the Christian community today as the sleeper tosses restlessly in a fever-induced dream. We at times awake partially [399/400] to our evil state, but we make no attempt at fundamental dealing with our problems. Is it possible that it should be other-wise? Is there the slightest possibility of the reunion of Christendom? Judging from the past one would unhesitatingly say, no. But have we any right to a pessimistic acquiescence in our failure?

The question of Protestant unity has been adequately dealt with by another speaker, and I therefore lay that aside.

The prospects of at least a working agreement with the East are bright. We have come to see that between the authorized formularies of the Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Churches there is no insuperable division. We have gained from a large part of the East a recognition of our orders, and consequently of the validity of our sacraments. Friendly conferences take place and mutual understanding is growing. All this is satisfactory and opens the way to a full recognition of the Catholic character of the Anglican Communion by the East, which is all that at present can be expected. A more rapid advance is hindered on the side of the Orient by the wretched political conditions which prevail in the near East—conditions difficult enough in themselves and which are rendered worse by constant Western interference in the interests of commercial imperialism. On our side advance to a better understanding and a realised unity are hindered by our own internal divisions and lack of discipline, which make it difficult (to put it mildly) for any one who undertakes negotiations with us to be certain that those with whom negotiations are being carried on actually represent the body for whom they assume to speak. Before we can contribute much to the reunion of Christendom it will be necessary for us to make it clear whether Anglicanism is a faith or a miscellaneous collection of opinions.

In the meantime we can at least try to see our way clear. To do this we have to dwell on the hopefulness of the Eastern situation and on what many will consider the hopefulness of the Latin situation. But the situation cannot be hopeless because the reunion of Christendom is the will of God. It is therefore possible. Difficulties there are, and it is our business to see them clearly and to do all that pertains to us to remove them.

And first of all if we are to approach the question of reunion [400/401] with Rome with anything more than an academic attitude, we must get rid of our prejudices. We must definitely abandon the anti-Roman attitude which we have inherited. What has happened in the past has left results. It is the results we have to recognize and the animosities that have grown out of them that we have to forget. No good has ever come from the traditional prejudices that are familiar to us and it behooves us to get a new attitude. And we must maintain that attitude even if it is not met with suavity on the other side. The matters with which the ordinary polemic against Rome is concerned are usually not vital. We can afford to let the Inquisition and the Jesuit morals and the forged decretals rest, and seek to define clearly the questions which actually do divide us. They will be found difficult enough without our adding anything irrelevant.

Incidentally, while we are about it, it is well to get rid of pro-Roman prejudice, that attitude of humility which is ready to confess (without much knowledge) that we must be wrong whenever and however we differ from Rome, with of course such minor exceptions as the validity of Anglican Orders and the marriage of the clergy. It really does not follow that everything that is written in a Roman manual is of divine revelation even if the Pope be infallible. Let us preserve our balance and make it clear where we stand, what we can accept and what we must continue to reject.

To come now to close grips with the subject: Rome demands as essential to reunion that we accept the Papacy. If we cannot do that the question falls. I suppose that many Anglicans would at once say, "Then it falls." But that seems going rather faster than necessary. Are we sure that our understanding of the meaning of the Papacy is accurate? What are the Papal claims?

The canon of the Vatican Council reads:

"If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church Militant, or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honor only, and not a true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema" [Dogmatic Canons and Decrees. p. 243.]

[402] This seems sufficiently explicit and would appear to contain assertions which are impossible of acceptance by anyone who remains outside the Roman Communion. However let us look at them a little and see if they necessarily mean all that they seem to mean, or if they are in any point acceptable to Anglicans.

I suppose that we may start with the admission that our Lord conferred a certain primacy upon S. Peter. It is not necessary here to take time in considering the well known texts: Thou art Peter &c. Feed my Sheep &c. These and the whole account of Peter's position in the New Testament cannot be put aside. Anglicans have always been ready to admit a primacy of some sort—primus inter pares, at least. But a primacy of honor is explicitly rejected by the Vatican Council as being an inadequate recognition of S. Peter's position. Can we admit more? Certainly the primacy of Peter is undefined in the N. T. We are hardly on safe ground in asserting that its meaning is exhausted as a primacy of honor. But if not, how are we to describe it? Shall we describe it as containing a "true and proper jurisdiction?"

The customary method of Catholic interpretation of Holy Scripture is to turn from the letter of the Scripture to what actually followed from it in the history of the Church. That is the obvious method to follow here. Do we find in the practice of the Church "a true and proper jurisdiction" exercised by S. Peter and by him passed on to the Bishop of Rome?

It can hardly be contended with any hope of success that such an exercise of jurisdiction is visible in the N. T. Attempts to find evidence of such jurisdiction in the so-called Council of Jerusalem and in S. Paul's visit to Jerusalem and conference with S. Peter simply serve to show the straits to which controversy is put in this matter. Except as theological curiosities they have no interest. There is in fact no trace in the N. T. of jurisdiction exercised by S. Peter. Assuming that whatever primacy belonged to S. Peter was by him assigned to the bishops of the Roman see, it is still true that there is no evidence of the exercise of jurisdiction over the Church by the bishop of Rome during the first centuries. Attempts to establish such a claim have been abandoned by sane controversialists. Mgr. Duchesne recognizes that there was not "in the Church of [402/403] the 4th century, a central authority recognized and active" ["If there had been in the Church of the 4th century, a central authority recognized and active it would have offered a means of solution. But it was not so. Antioch and Alexandria are at variance; the Egyptian episcopate supports Athanasius, the Eastern episcopate opposes him. How was the matter to be decided? By doing as Aurelian did, and putting oneself on the side taken by the Roman Church? For that it would have been necessary that there should be in this respect a tradition, a custom; that it should have been usual to see the Roman Church intervening in these matters. But in reality it was a very long time since anything had been heard of that Church in the East. Duchesne, The Early History of the Church, Vol. II, 521. Eng. Trans.] and Mgr. Batiffol's attempts to explain away his obvious meaning lack success. Mgr. Batiffol indeed grants all that we are contending for when he says: "We can never hope to understand anything of the history of the Papacy, if we are determined to think of it as an institution which attained its full development in the early ages of the Church. [Mgr. Batiffol goes on: "Catholicism has encluded such different things as the régime that Rome gave to the Churches of her metropolitan province, and that which she gave to the Churches of the vicarate of Thessalonica. Christian Africa before the Vandal invasion, was a confederacy of churches which were grouped around the bishop of Carthage and recognized by Rome as being sui juris. Christian Egypt was a closer confederation, very strictly subject to the bishop of Alexandria; Rome had to do only with him, and never, in the time of Athanasius or Cyril, did she intervene in the internal ecclesiastical government of Egypt. To the East of the Roman Empire, in the kingdom of Persia, gathered around its Catholicos existed a church apart, not suffering its affairs to be brought before the 'Western Fathers,' that is, the bishop of Antioch and his council. Over the Catholica which she encluded in her horizon, Rome exercised her solicitude, and this sollicitudo implied a potestas which she exercised by right of supervision and intervention but which she generally kept in reserve till its help was sought." Batiffol in Blackfriars, June 1923, p. 887-8.] We may add to this the testimony of a distinguished French theologian, Prof. Sertillanges, who says: "It was hardly before the fourth century that the Roman power was clearly exercised," and "it is permitted to think—though there is perhaps some boldness in here putting forth the hypothesis—that if the Church had lived only two or three centuries, there would have been no Pope." ["It was hardly before the IV century that the Roman power was clearly exercised. The power of the other bishops became more confined to their own church, more local; that of the bishop of Rome was universalized in proportion, with a view to satisfy the new needs of a growing unity and of an administrative complication which required a stronger centralisation." Sertillanges, L'Eglise, I, 160. II, 288.]

As these are the utterances of accredited Roman writers we are entitled to assume that in some way (dim to us) they are harmonious with the Vatican decrees. May we then state the position in this way? Our Lord conferred on S. Peter a primacy which contained an undefined jurisdiction which formed a nucleus about which the active jurisdiction exercised by the Bishop of Rome gathered in the course of centuries? This statement might prove not impossible of Anglican acceptance.

[404] For it would account for the actual jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome as the gradual allocation by the Church to that see, because of its preeminence, of a constantly increasing jurisdictional power. Just because of its eminent character it would be the center to which questions requiring settlement were referred. The growing complexity of the life of the Church would in any case demand such a center of jurisdiction, and the acknowledged Apostolic character of the see of Rome would point it out as that center. We should thus have a primacy conferred by our Lord to which the Church assigns powers of government as the circumstances of its growing life demands. The analogy of the oak and the acorn would then hold good inasmuch as the oak unfolds from the acorn by virtue of a life which associates with itself extraneous matter by the incorporation of which it becomes an oak.

This, in fact, seems not to differ very much from the theory advanced by many Roman theologians. e. g., Prof. Sertillanges says, (L'Eglise, v. I, 159) "It is certain that at the beginning of its Roman life the apostolic institution only indicated by signs hardly perceptible that primacy that to-day we see so firmly established." Only we would point out that the theory of the Papacy which seems to us not impossible of acceptance is not, strictly speaking, one of development. On a theory of development that primacy conferred by our Lord would have been a germ from which a rich content was in time unfolded, but all the content was in the germ from the beginning. That does not seem to us the fact. Rather, the bishop of Rome as the heir of the primacy of Peter thereby becomes an obvious center of ecclesiastical influence, a nucleus about which jurisdictional powers may gather,—a process which once initiated will go on increasing, and new powers will continually be allocated by the Church to that see which already exercises so many. This seems to us a real difference from the development theory and, in the face of historic facts, to be more easily understood. [We do not enter here into the question of S. Peters Roman bishopric or of the transmission of whatever powers were his to the bishops or see of Rome. We are willing to accept the constant tradition of the Church on these questions.]

The difficulties of the theory of the primacy then seem not to be insuperable. Are the difficulties of the theory of infallibility [404/405] more so? What is the meaning of the infallibility? The Vatican pronouncement is [Dogmatic Canons and Decrees. 256.]:

"We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in this discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, he is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable."

Here again are difficulties which seem insuperable; but let us be patient and ask of our Roman brethren detailed explanation.

What strikes us first of all is the (so it seems to us) explicit separation of the Pope from the Church when he is exercising the office of infallible teacher. This first impression that we gain is confirmed by the words of Cardinal Manning whose interpretation, because of his relation to the Pope and Council, bears great weight. He says, (True Story of the Vatican Council, 192.):

There are only two other points to be touched upon in this narrative . . . The one is that in the end of the definition it is affirmed that the doctrinal declarations of the Pontiff are infallible in and of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church. That is to say, they are infallible by divine assistance, and not the assent and acceptance of the Church to which they are addressed. Or, more simply, the teacher is not infallible because the taught believe his teaching. They believe his teaching to be true because they believe their teacher to be infallible. The motive for these words is obvious. They were the critical difference between what must be called once more by names which have now lost both meaning and reality, the Ultramontane and the Galilean Doctrine.

If the surface impression we gain from the Vatican decree, which is confirmed by the exposition of Cardinal Manning is correct, then this decree raises insuperable barriers against the reunion of Christendom. Possibly we misunderstand their meaning. Our difficulties take the following forms.

The doctrine of the infallibility as stated seems to ignore the divine character of the Body of Christ and practically to deny that it is to it that Revelation is committed to be kept and defined. [405/406] We believe that the Church is infallible and that it teaches the truth committed to it in various ways. But we do not believe that the infallibility of the teaching is known from the teaching organ, but rather from the recognition of the truth taught by the whole Church as an expression of its mind. Our Lord promised to be with His Church until the end of the world and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. The meaning of this promise does not seem to find fulfillment in a Voice declaring to the Body truth which its sole function is to accept. Nor does one find any evidence of such a declaring and defining voice from the beginning of the Church's history. Yet it appears to be asserted that this infallibility was explicit in S. Peter and in his successors in the see of Rome.

Now there is no evidence of the existence and exercise of any such teaching authority in the see of Rome for centuries. But the power claimed is of such a nature that if it existed it would have been vital to the Church from the very beginning. Anyone who has seen in the pages of history the early Church struggling with error and division can have no doubt if there had been anywhere an infallible teaching authority to which men in their perplexity might have resorted they would eagerly have done so. If the authority existed it could not have been silent for centuries. It could not have been in doubt. It could not have been held in abeyance while the Church through the relatively clumsy machinery of the Councils was trying to establish in detail the meaning of the Revelation committed to it. The infallibility of the Papacy could not have remained in doubt, a subject of dispute, a doctrine that might be denied by anyone, up till our own time. Yet this alleged gift of our Lord to Peter, a gift which is asserted to be necessary to the preservation of the Faith was so doubtful that it could be repudiated by authorized Roman teachers up to 1870.

Our difficulties do not end here. The whole theory of the Papacy as stated perplexes us. We have been taught to believe that our Lord constituted a spiritual organism which He called His Body and to which He committed His powers. These powers which Christ left to His Church He left to His Apostles as a whole, not to individuals. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. . . Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins [406/407] ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." "He that heareth you, heareth Me." "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." "Do this in remembrance of me." Here we find all powers—magisterial, ministerial, governmental—committed to the Apostles as a Body. Of the Body, so endowed, Jesus Christ remains the Head. Of this spiritual organism the Church Militant is but a part, we may even say, a relatively insignificant part. To this Church Militant which is related to the whole Church as a province to an empire, certain powers necessary to its growth are committed. These powers (as matter of history) are exercised for centuries through the united action of the episcopate. We can understand that owing to the increasing complexity of the Christian Empire the need of a central power is felt, the need of a court of final appeal &c., and that out of this need grew the Papacy as a form of government. We can also understand that out of the need to state its mind clearly a delegation of powers of definition might well be attributed to the Apostolic See. But there is nothing in the history of the Church that would lead us to accept that power as existing from the beginning and independent of the Body itself.

Once more: the existence of such a power as is claimed is to us wholly unintelligible. We have learned to look on the Body of Christ as a sacramental unity. In it is the life of Incarnate God which is distributed in the form of grace through appointed and therefore normal functions of the Body. The powers of perpetuating and ruling are transmitted from the Apostles through the episcopate and by the episcopate are distributed to the Body. All is orderly and intelligible here. And then we are told of a power that seems to us, as it is described, independent; which overshadows these (to us) normal powers of the Church; which overrules and suspends them at will; which declares the mind of God; and which appears to be in essence a new creation from outside the sacramental life of the Body whenever it comes into existence. The Pope, the successor of Peter, dies; and infallibility and supreme jurisdiction die with him. If no Pope is [407/408] elected for a long period the Church is deprived of its so-necessary Head. If there be a dispute as to who is the legitimate successor of Peter, for generations (as has happened) the Church is to all intents and purposes headless upon earth. If and when a bishop of Rome is elected there is (it would seem) a new creative act of the Holy Trinity endowing the bishop of Rome with the Petrine prerogatives. All this is to us in violation of much that we have learned of the Body of Christ and is unintelligible. ["As regards Order, the Roman Pontiff has all the powers, and no more than the powers, of a bishop. If the newly elected Pope is not already a bishop, he must first be consecrated before being crowned. Nevertheless, even before consecration, he is really and truly Pope, Supreme Head of the Church, able to decree, rule, name and depose bishops, and exercise every duty of pontifical jurisdiction . . .  but he cannot ordain or consecrate till he has himself received the imposition of hands from other bishops, inferior to himself, and holding under him their sees and jurisdiction." Wilhelm & Scannell, v. II, 355.]

Further: When we ask for evidence of the existence of the Papal Magisterium from the beginning we are told that our Lord "since He willed that His kingdom should be visible," "was obliged, when He ascended into heaven, to designate a viceregent on earth" and that this viceregent in order to the fulfillment of his office must be endowed with universal jurisdiction and infallibility as the Vatican Council teaches. This is an argument that does not appeal to us. To be told that a thing is necessary and therefore exists seems to lack something of logical force. If it was necessary it did exist and can be shown to have existed by its results. If the Papacy must have existed from the beginning because it is necessary to the unity of the Church, then from the beginning it was necessary to and did preserve that unity, and can be shown to have done so. But one of the peculiarities of the Papal theory is that it actually has not done that which it is contended that it was created to do and which could not have been done without it. As plain matter of fact it has neither preserved the unity of the Church nor the purity of its doctrine. Heresies rose and fell and were not suppressed by Rome. The unity of the Church is broken; and to avoid the issue by the assertion that the Roman obedience is the whole Church is only to do what the sect of the Muggletonians might equally well do—assert their exclusive ownership of the Christian religion. The East has never been subject to Rome and is a phenomenon with which Roman controversialists do not successfully deal. ["The Easterns have always had a defective sense of the unity of the Church. They were dominated by the determination not to have the East subject to the West, a determination which it was generally in the interest of the Basileus to uphold. They too easily set points of dogmatic controversy above everything, and accepted schism with pitiful facility." Batiffol, loc. cit. 880. But would this attitude of the East have been possible if the Roman theory of the Papacy were true? What about the West being "dominated by a determination" to have the East subject to It?] Nor has Rome preserved the Faith [408/409] by infallible decrees. During the momentous period of the Councils it was the bishops who met to testify to the faith committed to them. Naturally, the conciliar decisions were referred to Rome for acceptance, but in no other sense than they were referred to Constantinople or Alexandria or Antioch. Neither did the Councils automatically accept the utterances of Rome. Roman controversialists tell us much of the Reception of the Tome of S. Leo at Chalcedon, that the members cried with enthusiasm, "Peter hath spoken by Leo!" But what are the facts? "The Tome was indeed adopted; not however as an authoritative document in itself, but after examination and comparison with earlier documents. Further, the Council drew up its own definition of faith on the subject of the Incarnation." [Roberts, The Papal Question, 132.]

These are some of our difficulties as to the infallibility. We should be glad to have them removed. Is there any possibility of their removal in view of recent utterances of Roman writers there would seem to be such a possibility. With a little patience we may hope to see the difficulties removed and agreement arrived at.

As we saw that the theory of universal jurisdiction was stated in such terms as to convey the notion that it existed in fulness from the beginning, and that yet Roman interpretors hold to the fact of a certain development; so in the case of the infallibility. Here, too, it appears, development may be admitted.

Cardinal Newman asks:

"What has the long history of the contest for and against the Pope's infallibility been, but a growing insight through the centuries into the meaning of those three (Petrine) texts, to which I have just now referred, ending at length by the Church's definitive recognition of the doctrine thus gradually manifested to her?" (Difficulties of Anglicans II, 319.)

[410] Lord Halifax quotes Fr. Al. Janssens as saying to him:

"The infallibility of the Pope has admitted of a true development, a real doctrinal progress. It has been held but implicitly in the first three centuries and has been doubted afterwards, even until the time of the Vatican Council." (Further Considerations, 58.)

As to the vital question, on which the Vatican decree seems clear in the affirmative, whether the Pope defines in independence from the Church, the theologians of to-day take the negative. It is pointed out that the words in which the Pope confirmed and set forth the decree of the Vatican Council assert the cooperation of the episcopate. The decree reads:

"the decrees and canons contained in the constitution just read have been accepted by all the fathers without exception; and we, with the approbation of the Council, by our Apostolic authority, define and confirm them as they have been read."

Lack of time compels us to relegate other quotations to a note.

[Newman wrote, after the Vatican definition, "If the definition is consistently received by the whole body of the faithful, as valid, or as the expression of a truth, then too it will claim our assent by force of the great dictum, 'securis judicat orbis terrarum.' This is indeed a broad principle by which all acts of the rules of the Church are ratified. But for it, we might reasonably question some of the past councils and their acts." Dif. of Anglicans, II. 303.

Mgr. Batiffol writes (Blackfriars, V. IV, 873-4)

"For us Roman Catholics the prerogative peculiar to the Bishops of Rome does not do away with the prerogative of oecumenical councils. No doubt, through reaction against the errors of the Councils of Constance and Basle, and against the tendencies of the declaration of the French clergy in 1682, Roman theologians have insisted almost one-sidedly on the infallibility of the Pope; also the Constitution, Pastor Aeternus, of the Vatican Council, considers the Pope alone and defines only his powers, and barely mentions that the universal jurisdiction which belongs to the Pope is far from being 'any prejudice to the ordinary and immediate powers of episcopal jurisdiction.' But that doctrine is not thereby abolished which teaches the infallibility of the bishops scattered through the world and of oecumenical councils. Twice over the Constitution Pastor Aeternus declares that its definitions are promulgated by the Pope, 'sacro approbante conclio,' and it reminds us that the Roman Pontiffs have defined in the past only in oecumenical council or after ascertaining the mind of the Church scattered throughout the world,— 'convocatis oecumenicis concilius aut explorata Ecclesiae per orbem dispersae sententia'."

The following passages are from Lord Halifax's "A Call to Reunion."

"From a Memorandum forming the Basis of Discussion: In regard to the Vatican Decrees a great difficulty is removed if it is admitted that no power is claimed by the Council for the Pope apart from the Church, and that what it claims for the Pope is simply the power, after having taken every means to ascertain what the teaching of the Church is on any given point, to declare that teaching in an authoritative manner." (p. 4)

"The statement in the Memorandum as to what was claimed for the Pope by the Vatican decree was accepted as an exposition of Catholic teaching, that the privilege of infallibility does not separate the Pope from the Church, and that the Pope cannot act apart from the Church of which he is the head." (10)

The Abbé Boudinhon quoted is by Lord Halifax in Further Considerations:

"The Abbé said that no doubt the infallibility asserted by the Council for the successor of S. Peter was 'personalis' and 'absoluta' in regard to the deposit of the faith, as being real in itself, but that it could not be said to be 'separata' from the Church, and that, in fact, it would not be difficult to show that the Pope's infallibility was really nothing else than the infallibility of the Church itself. The Pope was bound when proclaiming the belief of the Church in regard to any point touching faith or morals contained in the deposit, to take all necessary means for ascertaining the faith of the Church, and though it could not be said that for this purpose one means could be insisted on as more necessary than another, the infallibility claimed for the Pope was strictly limited to the deposit of faith confided to the Church, and that to attempt to establish any infallibility apart from the Church, or in separation from, and in opposition to, the witness of the episcopate as to what the faith was, was not within the meaning and scope of the Vatican Decree."]

[411] To sum up: We are not standing on any nationalistic platform, nor are we claiming that the Anglican position is a possible permanent position. Through historical causes we find ourselves isolated from the rest of Christendom and recognize that this isolation is both undesirable and involves sin unless we do all that in us lies to remedy the situation. We seek the reunion of Christendom. We seek understanding with the East and West. We recognize our obligation to sink all pride and to surrender all that we can for that great end. At the same time we cannot truthfully take all the blame for the fact of our separation from the see of Peter. We are willing to do our own repenting, but we cannot admit that others have nothing of which to repent. We are not kneeling at the feet of Peter asking to be received into the communion of Rome, we are kneeling at the feet of God asking to be shown His will and that we may put away all pride and prejudice and follow it. We state what it seems possible for us to accept as a basis of negotiations for reunion, and then we wait until the see of Peter on its side ceases to treat us as revolted subjects and considers us as sheep of the Fold over which it claims jurisdiction. And if there are lengths to which we can go, there are also lengths to which we cannot go. We can by no means deny the validity of the sacramental life which we have received through the Church to which we belong, the validity of the ministry and of the sacraments which have been the means of our spiritual development.

This is what it appears to me that we can accept as a basis of negotiation for reunion.

I. A Primacy of S. Peter and of the Bishops of Rome, Jure divino.

II. A jurisdiction differing in extent at different times, but in all cases allocated to the Bishop of Rome, jure ecclesiastico.

III. An Infallibility which is the expression of the mind of the Church through the Pope as its organ of statement, and which is authenticated by its recognition by the whole Church.


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